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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Urban Food Ordinances, Part II

A row of raised planters, a type of community garden, in Lewter Park near Five Points. (Photo credit: James Vandiver)
This week, a zoning ordinance that includes regulations for community gardens, farms, farmers' markets and poultry was introduced to the Zoning Committee. If all goes well, the ordinance will reach the City Council in late October. Below is a layman's guide to the proposed regulations.
A map showing zoning districts can be found at maps.huntsvilleal.gov (Hover over the “More” button and turn on the “zoning districts” layer)

Community Gardens and Farms

Permitted zones: All commercial, light and commercial industrial districts for gardens; C-4 and above, light and commercial industrial districts for farms.

Allowed as a “special exception” by the Board of Zoning Adjustment: All non-residential lots and common areas in R-1 and R-2 (both gardens and farms), C-1 to C-3 (farms only)

Additional rules (special exception zones only): Permit must be renewed annually. On-site commercial sales are prohibited. Community gardens must be located in rear yard on lots with “primary structures” (e.g. a house).


Permitted zones: All residential districts as an accessory use (in other words, the chicken coop can’t be the main structure on your property)

Additional rules: Only hens allowed (no roosters), no more than three hens per residence, on-site commercial sales are prohibited. Enclosure for chickens can’t be closer than ten feet from the property line and no smaller than 12 square feet.

Farmers’ and Seasonal Markets

Permitted zones: Commercial Districts C-3 and above; Light, Heavy and Commercial Industrial, Medical districts

Allowed as a “special exception” by the Board of Zoning Adjustment: All residential districts, Neighborhood Business districts (C-1, C-2)

Additional rules (for special exception zones only): Permit must be renewed annually. Prepared food cannot be served on premises.

What’s the difference?: Farmers’ Markets are defined as places to sell strictly fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products. However, as places that call themselves “farmers’ markets” have branched out from the traditional format and included sales of prepared foods, art, and jewelry (re: Greene Street Market), it was necessary to put these types of events into a different category-- “Seasonal Markets."

You may read the entire proposed ordinance here. 


Anonymous said...

Not a chicken a in every pot, but 3 hens in every lot....nice!

Anonymous said...

What does "no prepared food shall be served on the premises" mean? Does this mean food that can either be eaten on the premises or taken home to be eaten?

James said...

"Prepared food" means anything that is not grown or directly related to agricultural products, like sandwiches. Seasonal markets will allow "value-added" agricultural goods, like jams, honey, eggs, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out what an Urban Farm is and exactly what "gardens customary to residential occupancy" means.

As a child we always had a vegetable garden in the back yard along with fruit trees, grape vines, and a large strawberry patch.

So, would that constitute an urban farm or fall under the exception for gardens customary to residential occupancy?

At what point does my vegetable garden become an urban farm and now require a yearly license?

Some percentage of the total lot?
Some defined plot size?